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What Can I Use My Student Loan for? Approved College Expenses

4 minute read

“What can I use student loans for?” It’s a common question asked by college students. Just pop it into Google, and you’ll get hundreds of thousands of results. Clearly, a lot of people need help with this. Even parents are scouring the internet and questioning, “What do student loans cover?” If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Let’s cover what you can use student loans for and what they can’t be used for.

What Can’t I Use My Student Loan For?

Before we go over what student loans do cover, let’s look at what student loans do not cover. Really, they’re supposed to be used for educational expenses and any expenses related to attending school. Since you’re able to get loans for up to the cost of attendance, minus whatever aid you may get, it wouldn’t be wise to spend these loans on anything other than educational expenses. Those tuition bills will come whether you like it or not.

Car Loan? – NO!

What can you use student loans for? Not as a car loan. You may need reliable transportation, but colleges usually have a bus system, cities have public transportation, and off-campus housing tends to be close to the campus, so walking is an option. If you really need to buy a car, you could get a part-time job, but student loans are for educational purposes.

Spring Break – NO!

We know, we know. Your friends are already planning spring break somewhere fun. When you look at your bank account and see the funds from your student loan, just remember vacations are not an answer to “What can you use student loans for?” It’s tempting to set sail or hit the road, but these funds are for your education, not a week’s vacation to the beach. You should be a responsible borrower and use your student loan for educational expenses.

What Happens if I Misuse My Student Loan Funds?

As soon as you ask, “What can I use a student loan for?” your natural next question may be what happens if you use your student loan for the wrong things. There are a few things that could happen. First, the financial aid office at your school could report the misuse to the government, and the Department of Education could take their money back. That means you’d have to pay your education expenses out-of-pocket.

Using your student loan for the wrong purchases could mean falling behind on tuition or rent payments or impact your ability to obtain student loans in the future. Only borrow what you need, so you don’t get overwhelmed when it’s time to start repaying your loans.

What Can I Use My Student Loan For?

Enough of the doom and gloom, let’s answer what CAN you use student loans for. Student loans are meant to bridge the gap between cost of attendance and financial aid. They’re meant to help pay for all aspects of attending a college.

Tuition and Books

These are some of the biggest and most common educational expenses students need help paying for. This is exactly what student loans can help with. These are also expenses schools calculate into the cost of attendance, which helps determine your loan amount and financial aid.


This is another large expense students spend money on — whether it’s an on-campus dorm or an off-campus apartment. The average price of college housing in the United States is around $10,000 a year, and it’s certainly not the only expense a student has.

A Computer

A computer may be one of the most essential pieces of equipment for the modern student. You’ll need a computer to write papers, attend online classes, complete homework, and more. Because it’s an essential educational expense, you can use your student loan for it.

Food and Groceries

These go under living expenses, which you can use your student loan for. Eating is a necessity and costs money — even at on-campus dining options. You’re more than welcome to use your student loan money for food.

NC Assist Loan Can Help You Pay for College

If you need help paying for college, the NC Assist Loan may be a great option to help bridge the gap between the cost of attendance and your financial aid. Complete a student application to see how we can help you reach your goals.

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